Union workers at Ford by a wide margin rejected contract changes with the automaker that would have prohibited the United Auto Workers from striking during 2011 contract negotiations.

“The ratification process proves once again that the membership is the highest authority in our union and we are respectful of the final outcome,” the UAW said in a news release. The union’s leadership had supported the contract changes, and labor experts called the rare loss a major blow to the administration of UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

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